John Paul II Foundation Is Updated

Statute Renewed for Group That Promotes Polish Christian Culture

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II gave new impetus to the organization set up 22 years ago for the religious, cultural, and charitable assistance of Poles living in their homeland or abroad.



On Tuesday, the Pope presented the decree making the John Paul II Foundation's renewed statute operative. He handed the decree to Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, president of the foundation's executive council.

The decree, which defined the basis for the development of religious, cultural, and pastoral initiatives, has been updated after the experience of two decades and adapted to current challenges.

The celebration of the Pope's name day -- as Karol Wojtyla he observes Nov. 4, the liturgical memorial of St. Charles Borromeo -- was the chosen context to hand the new statute to Archbishop Wesoly in Paul VI Hall.

Members and friends of the John Paul II Foundation organized an "Evening of the Holy Father's Poetry," attended by numerous faithful from Poland.

John Paul II said the foundation is designed to "facilitate the consolidation of the existing traditional ties between the Polish nation and the Holy See to promote the propagation of the patrimony of Polish Christian culture and in-depth study of Church doctrine."

"Today the realm of the foundation's activity has been enlarged so that it now has an international character," the Holy Father said in his address. "Nevertheless, we cannot forget the Polish roots."

The Pope thanked friends of the group from the United States, Indonesia, France and Italy for their presence and support, and thanked God "for all the good that has been carried out in these 22 years at the initiative of the foundation."

The foundation is committed to preserving the documents relating to this pontificate and to spread the teachings of the Church.

John Paul II also referred to "the most precious work ... which leaves its imprint forever on the hearts and minds of young people."

"Thanks to the foundation," he said, "hundreds of students of former Communist countries have been able to benefit from study scholarships and to finish their studies in different disciplines in Poland."

The Holy Father, who has met with these young people on several occasions, noted that they "return to their countries of origin to serve, with their science and the testimony of their faith, those who for years were deprived of access to science and culture understood in a wide sense: the message of the Gospel."

In this context, John Paul II thanked Cardinal Camillo Ruini and the Italian bishops' conference for their help in the formation of young people of the former Eastern Bloc who are studying in Lublin, Warsaw and Krakow.

"It is a significant expression of the solidarity of the Church in Italy with the Churches that continue to cure the wounds of the past," he concluded.